Saturday, July 10, 1982

Letting go

I was woken up at quarter-to-five by Dad: by half-five we were walking on Keddon Moor, still dark with evening gloom, the air cold, while high above yellow-brown palls of cloud scudded eastwards towards Whincliffe.

Now the just risen sun glared misty yellow, flaring across narrow ancient fields, casting pale shadows of trees and sheep and highlighting the hollows. The sky towards Heber was rain-shrouded, the horizon a blur of grey. It was blowy and bright as we took the old path that skirted the trig point, Stoat’s Gate I think it's called, and the pale moon showed its occasional face through high cirrus and banks of low racing cloud. Down below, the sleepy city was pale and enticing.

I began to feel cold and since the squall clouds loomed ominously we beat a retreat to the car. There were only a few people about as we drove back, calling at a newsagents in Harmshaw. It's as if everyone is friendlier in the early morning; it's the best part of the day and the part wasted by the majority (including me) who sleep into mid-morning. It would be better to go to bed and get up a lot earlier  and sleep through the afternoon.

Late-morning, Mum, Dad and I drove over to Saxton. Carol was in on her own, Robert off potholing somewhere. She talked about their monastery visit and she sounded impressed and she says Robert is taking it really seriously. It appears he’s well on his way to becoming a Buddhist.

I stayed quiet, thinking about everything. Later, upstairs, I found a book about basic Buddhism, Wisdom Energy, by two Tibetan monks, and it was all about letting go of the self and letting go of anger, of realizing the futility of trying to attain happiness by seeking transient pleasures, etc. True happiness can only be achieved by acknowledging the massive self-delusions that we labour under day and night.

I read this for much of our visit, lying on a sleeping bag on the lawn in the bright hot sun while Dad slept or watched cricket and Mum & Carol talked. At six-fifteen we left and after a tense, irritable drive back I was dropped off in Easterby.

I met Roy (he of the black hair, mustache, loud comments and spontaneous singing),  Steve Brown and a lad from the Produce dept. called Philip, and we set off straight away to the Three Kings up Felgate Road. It was deserted, but we had a pint and quickly did the same at four or five other places: I drank pints at first but I soon had to ration myself.

We trekked across to the Victoria joking loudly and feeling nervous but finding it full of punks and spikehairs: I don't know what we expected. We met up with two girls, who seemed like typical disco types. One, to me: “Is that all you do, sit there going--?” and she mimicked biting her thumbnails.

After this we made our loud and noisy way back to the Three Kings which was now packed. We fought our way to the bar in a mist of blue tobacco fumes. Conversations raged all around and I was shoved into the two girls, I don’t quite remember how. A whisper from Steve: “Roy says Jackie fancies you”—Jackie made the fingernail comment—and then a whispered demand that I chat her up, which I made conscious but ineffective attempts to do.

The floor was slippery with spilled drinks; someone had poured beer down my leg. Jackie started to tell me that her parents were divorced when she was 2 and how she wants to go to Germany at Christmas, and I tried to think of anything to ask her, but couldn't, so she wafted her fan and talked with Steve or Philip instead. She was small, dark-haired, round faced, and had a strong Easterby accent and in a way I liked her, but in another I didn’t. My lustfulness felt false.

. . . Meanwhile a roar and thunder of music and pub confusion and a whirling glittery stripper flaunted her breasts, stroking herself, then dived off stage. . . .

“Last orders half-past ten,” knowing smiles from Steve. Jackie’s mate Samantha woozily fixes us up as dates for next Saturday night at 7.30; I’m supposed to meet her at Tesco on Thursday to arrange details. Coy smiles from Jackie. “Isn’t she awful?” she says with mock horror laughs, and I am all smiles and weak agreement, convictions a billion miles away in all this. “Aren’t you going to kiss her goodnight then?” says Samantha to me but if I was meant to it was just tough luck and she was gone.

I walked home with Roy, talking about music and the night etc., etc., but I feel so false about the whole thing. God! How will it end?

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